WHITE KNIGHT: “Dangerous Minds” (1995) reps one of the few Bruckheimer productions headed by a female protagonist. Michelle Pfeiffer, who plays an inner-city school teacher, gives “a funny, scrappy performance that makes you feel a committed teacher’s fire to make a difference,” according to Rolling Stone. But while reviews were generally unkind, the film went on to score just short of $180 million worldwide, not bad for a character-driven drama with a message.
HOOP DREAMS: The Chicago Tribune called this year’s “Glory Road” a “stand-up-and-cheer basketball tale taken from real life.” The movie is inspired by the 1965-66 Texas Western Miners — the first all-black starting lineup to reach the NCAA championship final — led by coach Don Haskins (played in the film by Josh Lucas). In its review, Variety described the film as “a slick enterprise buoyed by a Motown-flavored ’60s soundtrack and an appealing ensemble cast.”
FEMALE TROUBLE: “Cat People” (1982), the second collaboration between Jerry Bruckheimer and writer-director Paul Schrader (after 1980’s “American Gigolo”), is awash in the atmsopherics created by production designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti, composer Giorgio Moroder (both from “Gigolo”), special effects artist Albert Whitlock and cinematographer John Bailey. The Chicago Sun Times’ Roger Ebert wrote that the movie “creates a mood of doom, predestination, forbidden passion, and, to be sure, a certain silliness” and added that the film is held together primarily by the strength of Nastassja Kinski’s lead performance.